How can we make national environmental laws better?

How can we improve our national laws to make sure we are protecting the environment for the future? A panel of experts has released their vision for ‘next generation’ environmental laws.

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley

4 May 2017, updated 15 September 2017

Australia faces unprecedented environmental challenges. Biodiversity is declining. Invasive species are spreading. Native forests are disappearing. Growing populations in Australia and overseas are increasing our consumption of natural resources. We are experiencing intensifying climate change and more extreme weather.

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) has developed a Blueprint for the Next Generation of Environmental Law

Our existing laws might look good on paper, but they are failing to address these urgent challenges and prevent environmental decline. Our existing laws cannot guarantee that development will be ecologically sustainable. There have also been attempts to wind back longstanding environmental law protections in recent years.

We need to strengthen national environmental law.

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) has developed a vision for the next generation of Australian environmental laws that can ensure a healthy, functioning and resilient environment for generations to come.

The project is summarised in The Future of Australian Environmental Laws. This report provides an overview of detailed technical expert papers across eight key topics:

  1. The foundations of environmental law
  2. Environmental governance
  3. Terrestrial natural resources management
  4. Marine and coastal issues
  5. Climate law
  6. Energy regulation
  7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance
  8. Democracy and the environment 

The expert panel also made 57 recommendations for the next generation of Australia’s environmental laws

Rachel Walmsley is a member of the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law.


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